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TransUnion Free Credit Score Settlement

If you had a credit card, loan or credit account between January 1987 and May 28th, 2008, you are eligible to file a claim in a preliminary settlement of a class-action lawsuit (though not slated to be approved until September, though it’s probably going to happen). That’s a whole lot of people. The lawsuit was filed eight years ago in Chicago and alleges that TransUnion sold consumer profile information to businesses, which is a violation of federal law. What started in Chicago certainly didn’t stay there, eventually there were 14 federal lawsuits. Yikes!

(Thanks to Cap [3], if you used TransUnion or TrueLink between December 1, 1999 and April 16, 2007, you can get three months of credit monitoring through a settlement in the Robert V. Townes, IV v. TransUnion, LLC and TrueLink, Inc. case [4], deadline for that settlement is July 22, 2008)

What Do You Get?

You may be eligible for one of two options:

(1) Basic relief. Free credit monitoring for six months, which gives you daily access to your credit report and credit score and 24-hour credit-monitoring service. This normally costs $59.75. Those who elect this option may get a cash payment if there’s money left from the $75 million settlement fund.

(2) Enhanced relief. An alternative enhanced set of services” in exchange for a full release of claims. This options includes nine months credit monitoring, a suite of insurance scores and TransUnion’s mortgage simulator service. This option normally would cost $115.50. You won’t be entitled to any cash payment under this option. [Source: Phuong Cat Le of SeattlePI.com [5]]

What Are My Option?

Option 1, basic relief, is the only one where you could potentially get money (if there’s any left over). If you elect basic relief you can get the free credit monitoring for 6 months or a $59.75 cash payment. I don’t think there will be any cash left over in the $75 million settlement fund (there never seems to be, plus you figure with the internet and how fast information spreads, you’ll get a pretty high percentage of the estimated 160 million eligible Americans registering for this).

Option 2, enhanced relief, has no cash out option and comes with three aditional months of credit monitoring, and a “suite of insurance scores.” There’s conflicting interpretation of “suite of insurance scores.” Some news outlets are reporting that it’s your credit score, others call it a different score that insurance companies use to determine your rates. I didn’t know that there were even separate scores (there may not be) in the first place. Bottom line, you will get a credit related number for free that you otherwise would’ve had to pay for.

My Thoughts

  1. All the estimates put the settlement cost in the billions, yet TransUnion said they’d earmarked $75 million (this could always go up). They must not think people are going to sign up for this.
  2. Option 1 seems more like a waste of time for the consumer and a boon for TransUnion. Getting credit monitoring for six months and then not renewing is like getting life insurance for six months and then canceling. Sure, you’re protected for six months but then what? Maybe you forget to cancel something or end up renewing the service, both earn money for TransUnion (turn a big long lawsuit in a money making venture, brilliant!). I wonder if we’ll hear complaints in six months (maybe I’m just cynical) about it. Nix that, no credit card will be required.
  3. Option 2 seems a little better, though it still has the failings of Option 1, but you get to see some credit related score for free.
  4. If you aren’t interested in either option, I’d register for Option 1 and see if you can get cash; that’s likely what I’ll be doing. I think we need to see the options all spelled out and finalized before reserving judgment.

How To Participate

First, you’ll have to register. After June 16th, 2008, you can register online at www.listclassaction.com [6] or by calling them up at 1-866-416-3470. As of May 31st, the website doesn’t work yet.

Lastly, you can always get a free copy of your credit report, thanks to Federal Law, through AnnualCreditReport.com [7].